Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Families of Ampatuan Massacre victims hit special treatment of Andal Sr.
Written by MindaNews   
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 01:42

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/23 Feb) -- Families of journalists killed in the Ampatuan Massacre criticized on Tuesday, on the third month since the incident, the alleged special treatment accorded to Andal S. Ampatuan Sr.

The former Maguindanao governor, the clan patriarch, is facing multiple murder charges in connection with the November 23 massacre that left 58 people dead, including 32 journalists, in sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

The elder Ampatuan has been detained at a room of the military hospital inside the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City following his arrest, which came after the short-lived martial law in Maguindanao early in December.

Ampatuan has  been staying in the military hospital since December 6 even as his mediclal ailments do not require hospitalization.

Ampatuan has also been reportedly allowed to go out of his room, but within hospital premises, to breathe fresh air and enjoy the warmth of the sun.

"Why is he still staying in a hospital? Why is he not kept behind bars? He should not be given special favors because he’s involved in a horrible crime. He killed not one but many people,” said Myrna P. Reblando, chair of Justice Now!, the organization of families of the journalists killed in the  Ampatuan Massacre.

Reblando, widow of slain Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro “Bong” M. Reblando, said the alleged special treatment accorded to the elder Ampatuan could be a ploy to allow him to escape from detention.

Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, EastMinCom spokesperson, reportedly said that Ampatuan’s trips outside his hospital room have the permission of doctors, and that there was nothing to worry because his chances of escape “is nil” considering the heavy security detail assigned to watch him.

Reblando said she would consult with their lawyers regarding the reported special treatment given to the elder Ampatuan.

Relatives of the slain journalists lighted candles and released balloons on Tuesday to commemorate the third month of the massacre amid cries for justice for the victims.

“Let us not forget. Let us continue to be vigilant on this case,” Reblando urged the public.

Court hearings against Andal Sr. have yet to start although his son, Datu Unsay Mayor Andal U. Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect, has already faced the court several times.

Andal Jr., who pleaded not guilty, is now detained at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila. The trial for his case is being held at national police headquarters in Quezon City.

Aside from the Andal Sr. and Jr., the Department of Justice found probable cause to indict suspended ARMM Gov. Zaldy U. Ampatuan, several other clan members and more than 100 others, including police and military personnel.

Andal Jr. allegedly headed more than 100 heavily armed men in stopping and eventually killing the convoy of a rival political family.

The slain journalists were to cover the filing of certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” G. Mangudadatu, who is running for governor. Mangudadatu sent his wife, sisters and lawyers to submit his bid. (MindaNews)